Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep
by Elena Beltran
Disclaimer: See Part 1 for all disclaimers
Jamie woke up well after sunrise. The sun streaming in through her bedroom window hit her directly in the face. The young woman blinked and turned over, hugging the extra bed pillow to her and burring her face into the softness. The warmth of the bed covers was very enticing. By the time she and Jenny had gotten home and Jamie had set up her guest in one of the guest bedrooms it was three o’clock in the morning. Exhaustion made the dark hair woman linger a while longer in bed.
Resolutely throwing back the covers Jamie rolled out of bed and stretched stiff neck muscles. Must have slept funny. The young woman thought as she padded into the adjoining bathroom. Thankfully there had been no strange dreams for once and she had slept quite soundly once she had finally gotten to bed.
After a quick shower Jamie pulled on work jeans, turtleneck and wool sweater. The fall chill had dissipated in the morning sun the flooded the field outside her window. It would be a good day to work with some of the horses. Heading down the hall she walked quietly to the guest bedroom she had placed Jenny in last night.
The blue-eyed woman knocked lightly, and hearing no one answer, opened the door slowly to peak inside the room. Blond hair spilled over the pillow and the ex-programmer had her mouth opened slightly in sleep, the light colored tabby cat was lying at the foot of the bed. A soft snore filled the room as Jamie closed the door once more as quietly as she could. Deciding to leave a note instead, the dark hair werewolf headed down the stairs to let her friend get as much sleep as she could.
The sun had risen high into the sky as Jamie finally settled down to her work. Teaching or ridding the horses had always clamed her, today was no exception. The two two-year-olds she was working with, Pudding and Farfalla, were doing very well. A stable hand was ridding Pudding, a dark brown horse with a white streak down his nose. Jamie was on the other horse. A two-year-old female Arabian horse out of Borius, who had a beautiful confirmation and an extra little flick to her haunches that would catch a judges eye.
Jamie counted the clip-clop of the trot from the horse under her. She worked the filly around her leg in serpentine figures, teaching the horse to listen to her hands and legs as well as her voice commands. The stable hand was doing similar exercises with the male gelding he rode. The fenced in training area was quiet save for the brief command that Jamie would speak every so often.
Such was the dark hair woman’s concentration on the task at hand that she failed to notice that Jenny had walked down to the training area. The blond hair woman was now leaning against the white fence, arms crossed on the planks in front of her. The late morning sun shone down on her sending red highlights throughout her hair.
Jenny was amazed at the dark hair woman’s rapport with the two horses she was schooling. There was a frown of concentration on the horsewoman’s face as she worked the black filly around her leg in circles. Her friend was an incredibly gentle woman for someone with such a brash exterior.
Jamie caught a glimpse of the woman out of the corner of her eye. Deciding that the two horses had been schooled enough for the day she signaled to the stable hand to reign in his horse. Jamie dismounted and gave the filly several affectionate slaps on the shoulder. Walking the horse over to the stable hand she handed him the reins and told him to give both horses a rub down. Blue eyes smiling she then headed over to where her friend was standing.
Jenny watched as the dark hair woman walked towards her. An almost animalistic strength simply radiated from the woman. It was uncanny; the power the werewolf exuded even when in human form was amazing. It was the kind of power that would make an army willingly follow her into battle. Jenny grinned as her friend walked up to her.
"Those are really nice looking animals." The blond hair woman said.
"Yeah, Farfalla should make a nice show. She’s got just what the judges are looking for." Jamie pointed towards the retreating filly as the stable hand led the horse into a stable. "Pudding’s coming along nicely too. He’s using his hocks more so the ride’s much smoother."
A grumble interrupted the dark hair woman half way through her sentence. Jenny giggled and poked her friend in the stomach.
"Work up an appetite?" Sea green eyes smiled playfully.
"Hmm…yeah. Forgot to eat breakfast." Jamie rubbed her stomach ruefully.
"Well, lets go eat lunch. I’m starving, I just woke up and haven’t had anything to eat yet either." Jenny walked towards the house, Jamie following along beside her.
Jamie played with the food on her plate quietly. For all the exercise and fresh air she was just not hungry. She could hear Jenny talking, but was not really listening to her. The small blond woman was as chatty as usual. Jamie suspected she was using humor to cover up her feelings about the fire. They had yet to hear from Jenny’s landlord or the fire officials about what had caused the blaze.
Thinking back to last night Jamie wondered about the strange smell. The effect that it had had on her was unsettling. She had fought to control her rage and had barely managed it. The red glow of her eyes was the only thing to show through of her suppressed change to crinos form.
Why would that smell affect me like that? Jamie wondered. It happened when we were in the astral as well. I could barley suppress the rage then too.
Flipping a piece of chicken over with her fork the dark hair woman bit the inside of her cheek lightly in thought. Ok, what do we know about this smell? It’s the same that appears at each killing. It is strongly associated with magic since it shows up on the astral plane even after it has disappeared from this plane.
Jamie thought about the strange dark cloaked mages that they had seen at the warehouse. Perhaps the smell had something to do with whatever type of spell that they cast over the werewolves that were killed.
That would make sense. But, why did I smell it when we were watching them and again last night right after the fire. Neither time was anyone killed, and I’m certain that they never knew that we were watching them.
To many loose ends! How am I going to figure this out by the deadline? Ice blue eyes went bleak at the thought.
"Hey, you all right?" Jenny’s voice broke into her thoughts and she realized that her friend had been calling her name for a while.
"Yeah, just thinking about the fire and all."
Jenny regarded her friend in silence for a moment, wondering if she should speak. The younger woman was always so closed with her feelings. The ex-programmer suspected that the talk they had the night of the fire was one of the few times the dark hair woman had expressed her thoughts out loud. A warmth spread out from Jenny’s heart as she realized that she was one of probably only a few people that the Jamie had let her vulnerable side show.
"Did you sense anything unusual last night during the fire?" Jenny asked.
Wide blue eyes looked up at her, startled. Jamie remained completely still as she tried to decipher just what the blond hair woman was asking.
"I saw that your eyes were glowing red like when we entered the astral and you said you smelled that weird smell." Jenny explained further. "They also did that when we were spying on those mages. I was just wondering if you sensed the same evil during the fire."
Jamie blinked at her friend’s attention to detail. The green-eyed woman was continuing to surprise her.
"Yeah, I did sense that same evil after we got out of the apartment." The werewolf responded. "It was stronger than when we were in the astral. I had trouble keeping the change under control."
"Your eyes were glowing red because you were going to change into, what is it called again? Crinos form?" Jenny said.
"Yeah, though our eyes don’t always go red like that. A Garou’s eye color changes with his or her emotions." Jamie explained. "The red color usually means the Garou is angry, enraged. I could only just control my change. What ever the smell was it seems to trigger a Garou’s rage, which is what we use to change our form."
"So if that smell was at each site a victim was found the killer or killers wanted them to change before they cut out the heart." Jenny concluded.
Jamie thought about that for a moment, a Garou’s rage was a dangerous thing to play with. Why would a human want to elicit the change when it would be much easier to kill the victim in human form? She wondered as much aloud to Jenny.
"Maybe what ever they’re doing can only be done with the heart after the Garou changes?" The green-eyed woman asked. "Or would that change back too when the person died?"
"Usually a Garou will change back into human form and as far as I know that includes any extra parts lying about." Jamie smiled at the other woman’s politically correct words. Most humans did not use the ancient name of her people or even refer to them as people.
"Here’s a question then, were the hearts you saw on the alter human?" Jenny asked. "Were they changed back to human form?"
Jamie thought back to when they were in the warehouse. She had thoughts that the hearts that were lined up on top of the alter were a bit larger than human hearts. Pulling the scene out of her eidetic memory she concentrated on the details. Sky blue eyes went wide and her dark eyebrows shot up to her hairline.
"They were still in Crinos form, huh?" It was more of a statement than a question. Green eyes met blue as the two women realized the implications of this new knowledge.
"I don’t know how someone could prevent the final change from taking place like that." Jamie confessed.
"We should ask your Uncle. Maybe it has something to do with the souls being removed as well?" Jenny said as she rose from her chair.
The dark hair werewolf stood as well, her meal left mostly untouched. Alfred appeared shortly and moved to clear away their dishes. The butler smiled at Jenny’s friendly words of thanks. He finished quickly and was gone again before the two of them had left the dinning room, heading for Jamie’s study.
beyond uber <> homepage